Powder is a 1995 film written and directed by Victor Salva, about an albino boy, Jeremy Reed (nicknamed "Powder"), who had been raised in isolation on his grandparent's farm since his mother's death from being struck by lightning during her pregnancy with him, and the responses of people as they discover some of his intellectual and paranormal abilities. It stars Sean Patrick Flanery in the title role, with Mary Steenburgen, Jeff Goldblum and Lance Henriksen in supporting roles.
- I could never watch television.
- Referring to the inability of televisions to function in his presence.
- I want to go home. Do you understand that? I want to go home. … I saw that I don't like what you do. Any of you. … You pretend to be my friend, the way you pretend everything. A friend doesn't lock you up. A friend doesn't take you away from your home, and say that its for your own good. How long do you really think I'll let you keep me here?
- Have you ever listened to people from the inside? Listened so close you can hear their thoughts — and all their memories. Hear them think from places they don't even know they think from?
- She says she believes in miracles now, and that you should too. … She thinks I'm an angel. Come to take her home, and to bring you and Steven together again, and remind you of how much you still are in each other's hearts.
- To Sheriff Doug Barnum, about his dying wife's thoughts, as he prepares to set up a mind connection between them.
- She didn't go some place… your wife. I felt her go. Not "away", just "out" — everywhere.
- To Sheriff Doug Barnum, after the death of his wife.
- I'm telling you. I've never seen anything like him. … Because of the way he's lived — he doesn't seem to know what things are. I mean, things you and I take for granted, common everyday objects, simple ideas. I just don't think he's ever been exposed to them. He's about the most well-read teenage kid you could ever meet, but in other ways, I think he's a lot like a little child.
- That was some light-show. People are going to be talking about that to their grandkids grandkids around here.
- Meeting Powder as he attempts to leave town after electricity arced into his body during a school science demonstration.
- Something's happened here. Something's happened here. I'm telling you, with everything we know, about science, about the makeup of the human body, what happened in that classroom is impossible. That kid attracted an arc of electricity from thirty feet away, and not just from the Jacob's Ladder, I mean, after a second it was like it was coming out of the whole… building.
- We're stumbling around in a very dark age basically trying not to kill each other. So it hurts me when you say "So what?" Because you are not just different, Jeremy, I think you have a mind that we won't evolve to for like thousands of years — you're maybe the man of the future right here and now.
Sheriff Doug Barnum
- We've got something out here nobody's gonna believe.
- I got twenty different kids telling me twenty different stories.
Deputy Harley Duncan
- You ever see so many goddamned lightning rods on one house?
- Observing the rows of lighting rods on the roof of Powder's grandfather's house.
- That kid, he lays his hand on the deer while it's still shaking, and then he touches me at the same time. Now, I can't figure out why — till my heart starts pounding, and I'm shaking, and I'm feeling myself hurt and scared shitless, slipping away in the goddamned dark. That's the worst thing I ever felt. Its like I could feel that animal dying. Hell, it was like I was the goddamned thing.
- Don't look at me, man? … Did you hear what I said? … I don't like your eyes.
- There's not much fight in you, is there freak show? You really think you could be like us?
- Sheriff Barnum: He won't come up from the cellar. He didn't report his grandfather's death either. We already know he died of natural causes. … The neighbors talk about him as if he's some kind of phantom. I haven't met one yet that ever had a good look at him.
- Jessie: What are you telling me, Doug?
- Sheriff Barnum: That the old folks may have kept him down there — like some kind of a family secret.
- Powder: I've never been to school. I've read about it though.
- Jessie: But, you said you read all these books? [Picking up a copy of Moby-Dick] : Have you read this book? … I know college kids who couldn't wade through this one.
- Powder: Pick a page.
- Jessie [looks into book]: 216.
- Powder [reciting from memory] : "Where lies the final harbor, whence we unmoor no more? In what rapt ether sails the world, of which the weariest will never weary? Where is the foundling's father hidden? Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it."
- Jessie: You know that whole book?
- Powder: I know them all. [Jessie steps out and gazes at the cellar lined with books].
- Sheriff Barnum: You telling me the kid electrocuted the old man? What, you think he's Doctor Frankenstein?
- Deputy Harley Duncan: I'm just saying that that's more than albino, Doug — that is spooky.
- Sheriff Barnum: I never thought we'd find a man too white for you there, Harley.
- Powder: The worst day I can remember was in a hospital.
- Sheriff Barnum: What day was that?
- Powder: The day I was born.
- Jessie: Your grandmother tutored you — did she ever say anything about it?
- Powder: She said I was a fast learner.
- Jessie: Yeah, well, I think that's about to fall into the "no shit" category.
- Dr. Aaron Stripler: Your I.Q. scored right off the charts Jeremy. There isn't even a classification for you it was so high. All of your tests indicate you have the most advanced intellect in the history of humankind. Do you understand what I'm saying?
- Powder: If you thought I was that advanced would you ask me if I understood? … You're not here to ask me questions. You're here to find out how I cheated. It's the only way you can make sense of it. It's what you need to believe. But I don't need you to believe in me, Doctor Stipler, and I'm not interested in any of your tests. I'm not interested in you or anything else here. I'm interested in going home.
- Powder: When a thunderstorm comes up, I can feel it inside. When lightning comes down, I can feel it wanting to come to me. Grandma said it was God. She said the white fire was God. Do you believe in God, Sheriff? That it was God who took my mother?
- Sheriff Doug Barnum: Hey — took your mother? Your grandfolks told you that?
- Powder: I remember it.
- Jessie [in regards to the Deputy being taken away in an ambulance after Powder transmits to him the feelings of the dying deer he had shot]: What did happen? Why won't you tell anyone?
- Powder: I let him see. I opened him up and I let him see. He just couldn't see what he was doing, so I helped him.
- Lindsey Kelloway: What are people like, on the inside?
- Powder: Inside most people there's a feeling of being separate — separated from everything.
- Lindsey: And?
- Powder: And they're not. They're part of absolutely everyone, and everything.
- Lindsey: Everything? I'm part of this tree? Part of Zach barking over fences? You're telling me that I'm part of some fisherman in Italy, on some ocean I've never even heard of? There's some guy sitting on death row — I'm part of him too?
- Powder: You don't believe me.
- Lindsey: It's hard to believe that — all of that.
- Powder: That's because you have this spot that you can't see past. My grams and gramps had it, the spot where they were taught they were disconnected from everything.
- Lindsey: So that's what they'd see if they could? That they're connected?
- Powder: And how beautiful they really are. And that there's no need to hide, or lie. And that it's possible to talk to someone without any lies, with no sarcasms, no deceptions, no exaggerations or any of the things that people use to confuse the truth.
- Lindsey: I don't know a single person who does that.
- Lindsey [As she communicates with Powder through his touch]: Your father. Your father hurt you a long time ago. You're so sad — he made you so sad. He thought you were ugly, and he kept saying that you weren't… — I'm sorry.
- Powder: Do you? Do you?
- Lindsey: Do I what?
- Powder: Do you think I'm ugly?
- Lindsey: I don't know what I think when I look at you. But sometimes I think, I think you're the most beautiful face I've ever seen.
- Dick Kelloway [seeing his daughter seated with Powder]: You having a good time with my daughter?
- Powder [smiles]: Wonderful.
- Dick Kelloway: You think this is funny? You think this is funny? Huh, lover boy?
- Donald Ripley: "It's become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity."
- Powder: Albert Einstein.*
- Donald Ripley: I look at you, and I think that someday our humanity might actually surpass our technology.
- * Though this is quoted as Einstein in Voices of Truth : Conversations with Scientists, Thinkers, and Healers (2000) by Nina L. Diamond, p. 429, there are no published sources of this statement yet located earlier than its occurence in this film.
- Sheriff Barnum: What the hell you doing, Jess?
- Jessie: The right thing — and if you don't see that, why don't you just turn your head, and please, please, just look the other way.
- Sheriff Barnum: I don't know how to do that, Jess.
Quotes about Powder
- Everyone in this movie seems a little slow to catch on that Powder is really special. There is, for example, Duncan (Brandon Smith), the intolerant local deputy sheriff, a redneck who likes to shoot deer. The deer hardly feel a thing, he explains, but then Powder acts as a conduit to carry the deer's fear and suffering into the deputy, who is so transformed that he sells his gun collection — yet still plays the heavy, making things tough on Powder. To quote Citizen Kane, there are some people who need more than one lesson. … Powder comes across as a cross between Cliff Robertson's Charly, the Elephant Man, Mr. Spock, E. T. and Jesus. He is wise beyond his years, has great compassion and insight, suffers much, and attracts intolerance and meanness even better than lightning. He is also very smart.
After an I.Q. test, for example, a psychologist tells him, "All of the tests indicate you have the most advanced intellect in the history of mankind. Do you understand what that means?" (If Powder's so smart, why does he have to ask?)
- The movies mistakes are: (1) to limit Powder's activities to the conventions of genre pictures, instead of exploring his effect in a more realistic world; (2) to prevent his enemies from learning from him; (3) to upstage his emotional insights with his electricity tricks; (4) to fail to explain his reality, so that there are no rules to create discipline in the plot, and (5) to expect us to be satisfied with an ending that settles less the more you think about it. The sad thing is, when movies like this fail, Hollywood executives think this proves there are no audiences for original, unusual pictures. Because they think they made one.
- Roger Ebert in his review in The Chicago Sun-Times (27 October 1995)
- An extraordinary encounter with another human being!